May 17th, 2018. Rabanal del Camino to El Acebo de San Miguel, Spain. Camino de Santiago.
It was one of those days that just started off badly and I couldn’t seem to right myself.
I started with a horrible night’s sleep. Never a good thing but I’ve had a wretched cough, intermittent high fever and between the two, it’s been keeping me awake most of the nights … and when I can sleep, it’s not for long.
What I didn’t mention for Day 32 was that I had sent my laundry off to be washed when I arrived at 2 pm. (I’ve done this before on the Camino where they wash and dry your clothes for minimal euros). It was promised to be delivered ‘in the evening’. When it was finally delivered at almost 10 pm, only one pair of socks was delivered out of the three pair I sent off. We all know the story of the dryer eating socks but when you only have three pairs to walk with, its a MAJOR issue. Of course, the owners had left by the time I realised it.
So first thing in the morning, I was ready to go. But, I had to wait until they arrived back at 7 am to ask about my socks. Despite the language barrier Mumma understood and delivered… but only one sock. Not a pair, and not the full three pair I handed over, but one sock. The F-word came out of my mouth. Worst case. With google translate, it was determined that my clothes were washed with another person’s and maybe she has the mate due to static?
But that person had already left.
I started walking. I was not a happy camper. But, there was nothing more I could do. Best case was to catch up with the other person and ask them if they’d found my two and a half pair of socks.
By the time I got to the top of the town of Rabanel, I was wheezing, coughing and I just could not find my legs. I was already exhausted. My legs were jelly. I sat and assessed what to do.
I really wanted to lay my rocks at Cruz de Ferro but it was 8km away.
I began thinking about all these ‘tests’ that have been thrown my way the entire journey. From my sketchy knee to the leaking wall in the first night’s Albergue, from losing my toenails, to throwing out my back in Burgos. Now it was this crud I just couldn’t shake and ugh, lost socks.
I felt like I just couldn’t catch a break.
Add in that as I walked, people passed me by, not caring about anything but getting to their destination and that made me sadder than anything because that was not the Camino I had expected.
One guy stopped, turned, and looked me pointedly in the eye, not saying a word, before turning again to keep walking. At that point, I stopped and cried. No, I bawled. I sobbed until snot was dripping out of my nose.
I had been messaging with my husband Rich, who has been my rock through this entire walk. He has been keeping me sane and on track the entire way. We had an agreement that I was not to quit. So, he told me the things I needed to hear, not letting me give up, and offering the words of encouragement I needed to hear to keep walking.
But I was done. He offered what he could but I was in a sad place.
I wanted to quit. I felt like crap and nothing was helping.
Then, he asked me one question: How much would you regret not laying your stones at Cruz de Ferro?
With that, I kept walking.
I made it to the first village. It was only 5km but it had taken me almost three hours to walk it.
That same guy who looked me in the eye and kept walking? He watched me, from his outdoor table as I crawled into town with a smug smile plastered on his face. He said, as I walked past him and into the bar, ‘now you can smile’.
I swear, I wanted to hit him. Instead, I responded curtly: ‘not yet’.
I ordered tea and a fresh orange juice. I sat down and just thought through things. I messaged Jerry and Sharon, my Camino friends, for their help and guidance. They were a day or two ahead and were having a rest day. They made me laugh, as usual. I swore to them that I was not whiney and I was certainly not as much of a princess as I sounded – I was just tired and sick. Jerry threatened to buy me a crown.
I stayed in that bar for an hour. I decided I would regret not laying my rocks. I had to push on.
I got up and walked.
I walked outside and continued climbing the mountain one step at a time. At one point, the Kiwi I had spoken to inside, and part of a threesome, had caught up with me and I somehow just started walking with them. They too were slower due to Mike having tendon issues (a major issue on the Camino!). Camino Angels exist and they were part of my Angelic posse that day.
We got to Cruz de Ferro and we laid our rocks and took photos but I have to admit it was an emotional moment for me. I had been carrying this shell/these rocks for some time so it was good to unburden them.
The conversation carried us down before up to Alto de Cerezales (the highest point on the Camino) and then down the rocky terrain into El Acebo.
But not before we passed wild lavender that had me deaf and with a constricted throat (I’m allergic to lavender) as we came into the village.
An allergic reaction. Great. It had to end the day like that, didn’t it?
Oh, but it didn’t end there.
After checking into the Albergue (which is the nicest one I’ve stayed in yet!), popping some antihistamine, I found a message from Sharon and Jerry – they had sent me their bookings through to Santiago and said they would love for me to join them to finish the Camino together. I cried once more. It was what I needed somehow. I practically started with them (I think I met them day 3 or 4?) and this was fitting. They’ve made the Camino joyful, fun and educational. They are my Camino angels.
I joined the day’s Camino Angels for dinner – the ones I had walked with – the Kiwis and the English couple. They got get me up and over the mountain. It was a great dinner with lively conversation about travel and our lives and our Camino journeys. But right after soup, I lost all appetite. I actually felt ill being around food. I think by then the day had caught up with me.
I was completely drained.
The day didn’t end up a complete washout:
- I found a lightweight pair of socks in my pack which will work for the remainder of the walk since I wear two pairs each day anyway.
- I had really had to rest to get past whatever this was because my symptoms are similar to last year’s pneumonia.
- Camino Angels do exist. I had found Camino magic after all.
- Because of the lavender, I am forced to skip ahead 44km. Ha! That’s two days walking – for me at least. But, it is necessary and it will allow me to catch Sharon and Jerry so we can finish this walk together, estimated to be the end of the month.
And so it will continue, which is not what I thinking 24 hours ago.
Where I Stayed: Albergue La Casa Del Peregrino
Would I Recommend it? Oh my – YES! One of the best places I stayed on the Camino.